LITR 4368
Literature of the Future

Final Exam Essays 2015

Model Assignments


Sample answers for Essay 2:
personal / professional interests


Kerri Phillip

Finding Hope

I found it interesting that the readings in the second half of the semester seemed to have a little more hope to them than the readings of the first half of the semester.  The stories might not all have happy endings, but they tend to show humanity prospering in the end.  There is also a noticeable decrease in the number of stories that show the human race self-destructing.  The authors of these stories, as opposed to the early ones, seem to have hoped that there could be a future for us that do not end in death and destruction.

It is often seen in time travel stories that someone is sent into the past to change things or ends up destroying things from another time.  In “House of Bones”, Silverberg goes in a different direction.  The narrator is sent back in time but he is not originally supposed to stay there, and even though the story is set in 2013, it is one story where he is not sent to destroy something.  Even after the narrator knows he is not going home, he does not try to introduce new ideas to the native people and change the way they live.  The narrator is very careful about what he reveals to his new friends.  So far he has only introduced writing, in hopes to help people in the future understand them better.  This story gives hope that if we do happen to conquer time travel, it will not necessarily be used in a bad way.

The story that I found the most surprisingly hopeful was “They’re Made of Meat”.  In a world filled with stories of aliens attacking the earth, trying to conquer it and exterminate the human race, Bisson manages to make alien invasion seem like a ridiculous idea.  While the fear of the earth being decimated by aliens might be a little farfetched, it is still one that many people have.  This story not only shows that we might not be the only lifeform in the universe, but that we are so insignificant that aliens would find us odd and want nothing to do with us. The aliens find the human race so ridiculous they say, “I advise that we erase the records and forget this whole thing” (71).

Originally, “Hinterlands” comes across as a story of loss, but the concepts of the story, the background of it, is what I found that gives hope to the future.  At the time period that the story is set in there are human beings living in space, and not because the planet was destroyed.  This shows that even if something were to happen to Earth, the technology has been discovered to allow the human race to continue living in a different place. 

What I found to be most intriguing though, was the idea of so many different countries coming together to try to make this exploration a success.  Even though it has had bleak results, the idea of these countries working together means that they are not war with each other.  In our present time, Russia has a very different government, and set of beliefs and values, than we have currently in the United States.  While things might not be directly hostile between our two countries, we are certainly not allies.  I find a future where we have reached an understanding, even an academic one, with Russia to be very hopeful. 

Haylie Unger broached a significant topic in her midterm and final where she discussed the fact that when reading literature of the future, you are either going to experience comfort or discomfort. I think she is correct.  Literature of the future is designed to make us think, it is designed to make us feel something. What will happen in the future?  Will we thrive or will we fail?  Whether it gives you hope or discomfort, the idea is that it is something that we do have to think about, sooner rather than later.